Tag Archives: Shibuichi Necklace

Pressure Creation, or, How I Overcame my Fear of Working with Shibuichi

Poppy Season, Shibuichi project progress

My “Poppy Season” necklace is made from Schibuichi, Sterling Silver, Copper, a German clock gear, and a little blue tourmaline.

Shibuichi Sword Guard

Shibuichi is a metal alloy of sterling silver and copper, originating in Japan, the source for so many colorful metal alloys and patinas which were used in the fine art of sword-making for centuries. The word actually means “one-fourth” in Japanese and refers to the original formula of one part silver to three parts copper, although metalsmiths of today have taken great liberties with the composition. You no doubt get the idea that this and other Japanese alloys have a rich and beautiful history.
In January of this year I got to attend a Winter Workshop with Juan Carlos Caballero-Perez in Daytona Beach, Florida. Months before the workshop, I was already preparing for it. Then I attended, and it was, of course, wonderful, and many things were learned. One of them was to make my own Shibuichi alloy using a lamination process.
Homeward bound with a couple of very precious pieces of metal, I was full of hope. Winter has become spring, spring now summer, and my precious Shibuichi still sat, gathering dust. Still full of hope but now tinged with the dishonor of fear and scarred with an abandoned idea. I had made a deep cut into one of the pieces of metal, only to get afraid and set the work aside. Argh!

Eventually, opportunity knocked – I had a request for more of my narrative pieces from one of the galleries that carries my work. Yes, it was time. A design had been sketched and the metal was already practically cut, so I went ahead and completed the cut. As soon as that was done, it was like a weight had been lifted. Something else needed to happen, and I decided to trash the original design and let the metal guide me, and flow out the way it wanted. Yeah, it always takes longer that way. But it tells it’s own story and becomes something that creates itself. These journeys are scary. There is no “me”. All objectivity is lost. You follow where this thing leads, and try not to screw it up.

Poppy Season Necklace, Shibuichi and Blue Tourmaline, by NLee

Have you ever completed a “challenge course?” It’s where you and a bunch of friends or co-workers gather and perform feats that you would never do on your own, or never believe that you could do on your own. You might scale a high wall with shouts of encouragement. Or don a helmet and harness and climb a 30-foot telephone pole, then try to stand on the top. And realize that the only way you can stand up is to lean so far over on the palms of your hands that you lose balance, and then you have to scoot your feet under your hands the minute that balance point comes. You have to let go in order to win.

Let go, and let your flower bloom. It’s now Poppy Season.